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Top 10 Movie Characters Who Are Unqualified to Do their Jobs

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Michael Wynands By luck, chance and lying, these famous movie characters managed to score jobs that they were completely unqualified to do. WatchMojo presents the top 10 movie characters who have jobs that they definitely shouldn't have. But who is the most unqualified on the list? Jack Black's Dewey Finn from School of Rock, Frank Abagnale, Jr. from Catch Me If You Can, or Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck's drilling team from Armageddon? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: Thanks to MikeyP for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Movie+Characters+Who+Are+Unqualified+To+Do+Their+Job

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Experience? Education? Training? Who needs any of that stuff! Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movie characters who are unqualified to do their jobs.

For this list, we’re looking at movie characters that were uneducated, untrained or otherwise inexperienced for the careers they took on. We’re not judging how well they performed these jobs – in fact, in many cases, they’re better than trained professionals; we’re just looking at how prepared they were for their work.

#10: William Miller
“Almost Famous” (2000)

Sometimes people are under qualified for a job, but they get the position thanks to perseverance and enthusiasm. In other cases, people can land a job by flat out lying about their qualifications, or more simply, their age. However, a 15 year old following an up-and-coming rock band around the country for Rolling Stone is likely a recipe for disaster - if not a full-blown missing persons case. William Miller, played by Patrick Fugit, is undeniably intelligent, a great writer, and clearly displays mature taste in music for his age. However, he also can’t grow a beard, and even by early 1970s standards, is way too young to be exposed to the full-blown party lifestyle of rock stars.

#9: Winston Zeddemore
“Ghostbusters” (1984)

Fun fact: Winston was originally written as a former marine with not one, but multiple degrees – and a Ph.D.! - under his belt. Unfortunately, it was decided that the fourth Ghostbuster needed to fill the “everyman” role in the film. This meant that amid all the scientific mumbo jumbo being spouted by the three scientists, there would be someone to represent the audience’s need for simplified explanations. As a result, Winston lost his backstory, and instead became the likeable man who was just looking for a paycheck. Honestly, none of the Ghostbusters seem qualified to be handling equipment with such potentially devastating effects, but Winston is hands down the least suitable of the bunch.

#8: Alfredo Linguini
“Ratatouille” (2007)

If only life were as simple as “Ratatouille”... Do you dream of working as a neurosurgeon, astronaut or architect, but not only do you have zero formal training in the field, you’re also particularly bad at it? Just find a rat with an uncanny knack for the profession, put him under your hat and have him control you like a giant marionette! Linguini is pretty much the worst cook to ever set foot in Gusteau’s restaurant, and if it weren’t for his little buddy, Remy, he’d still be the garbage boy. Linguini’s father may have been a world famous chef, but his impressively bad instincts when it comes to cooking show that some things simply cannot be passed down genetically.

#7: Stanley Goodspeed
“The Rock” (1996)

Hollywood’s got a soft spot for the zero to hero character arch. Sure, Stanley Goodspeed is a respected scientist, and he’s no stranger to danger, given that he’s the leading chemical weapons expert for the FBI. But when it comes to armed combat, he’s as big of a zero as you can find, and there isn’t a training montage in the world good enough to make us believe he can help take down a team of rogue marines. These aren’t your run of the mill, minimum wage henchmen hired to function as cannon fodder; these guys are elite killing machines. But miraculously, this “lab rat” somehow becomes proficient in armed combat and stealth tactics in the nick of time.

#6: Billy Ray Valentine
“Trading Places” (1983)

This role, originally written for Richard Pryor, went on to earn Eddie Murphy much praise from critics. As part of a “nature versus nurture” bet, a poor hustler from the streets of Philadelphia, Billy Ray Valentine, and the managing director of a brokerage firm switch places. As you can imagine, hilarity ensues. But surprisingly, Billy rises to the occasion and somehow manages to prosper in his new position. We can believe his street smarts and hustling skills translate well to the business world, but he is unbelievably inexperienced to be successfully working in stocks. Eddie Murphy himself admitted to staying totally on script for the final stock market scene, as he found the technical stock-related stuff confusing.

#5: Jake Sully
“Avatar” (2009)

The list of ways in which Jake Sully defies expectations as an operator of a Na’vi-human hybrid is lengthy. First off, most of the scientist drivers undergo extensive training to become comfortable controlling one of these bodies. Not only does he become comfortable within minutes of taking control, but he also displays unparalleled control of the motor functions, and that’s just the start. Before long he’s proving himself to be an almost more dexterous Na’vi than native Na’vi warriors. He even goes on to woo the woman who originally was going to shoot an arrow through the back of his head! Either Jake is very good at roleplaying or he’s the luckiest paraplegic in the galaxy.

#4: Erin Brockovich
“Erin Brockovich” (2000)

This is a bit of an odd one. Why? Because as unqualified as Erin Brockovich may have been, it’s based on a true story, and the real Erin Brockovich was no less impressive than her onscreen representation, as played by Julia Roberts. Erin Brockovich’s own website calls the movie 98% accurate. An unemployed mother of three loses her court case after being injured in an accident, and begins working at her lawyer’s office to make ends meet. In her clerical work, she uncovers information that results in a massive class action lawsuit, a lawsuit in which - despite a complete lack of formal education - she plays an instrumental role in running. Unqualified? Definitely. But more importantly, unbelievably impressive.

#3: Dewey Finn
“School of Rock” (2003)

We’ve all had to suffer through some high school teachers who seemed seriously unqualified. In all fairness, they probably were qualified… just painfully boring. “Boring” is the one thing that Dewey Finn most certainly is not, but he’s without a doubt unqualified to teach. First of all, he’s not actually a substitute teacher. In fact, he’s committing identity fraud by taking his roommate’s identity. Then, as if to confirm just how unqualified he is, he proceeds to pretty much ignore the school’s regular curriculum in favor of teaching the kids to be an awesome rock band. It may be one of Jack Black’s best roles – but in real life, the idea of a grown man impersonating a teacher and sneaking into a school is pretty unnerving.

#2: The Drillers
“Armageddon” (1998)

Let’s be clear. We aren’t saying that deep-sea oil drillers aren’t skilled. It seems like grueling work that requires a strong hand and plenty of experience. But… you’ve got to be crazy to think that it’s easier to train drillers to be competent astronauts than to train astronauts to be drillers. Astronauts have plenty of experience with complex, sensitive machinery. They also have the advantage of being comfortable working in space! Once again, why choose to put competent people into realistic roles in the plot of your film when you’ve got the classic Hollywood fallback… a training montage! An unconventional hiring choice is one thing, but not with the fate of the world resting in their hands.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Josh Baskin
“Big” (1988)

- Dave Kovic / William Mitchell
“Dave” (1993)

- Thomas ‘Tommy’ Callahan III
“Tommy Boy” (1995)

#1: Frank Abagnale, Jr.
“Catch Me If You Can” (2002)

We’ve seen some unqualified characters, but no one has so actively sought out positions for which they are painfully unqualified as the teenaged Frank Abagnale Jr. – who also happens to be a con artist, and impersonator. He’s an impressive man to be honest, and what’s the harm in a con if no one gets hurt? Well, unfortunately his lofty ambitions did put people in harm’s way. He started simple, impersonating a teacher, but then moved on to positions only held by highly skilled professionals. As a pilot, he could’ve killed countless passengers. As a doctor, people trusted him with their health. As a prosecutor, he actually passed the bar exam, which just adds to this already unbelievable true story.

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